I have in for some work a teens Gibson K1 Mandocello. Can't verify year of manufacture as the label has been previously removed for a back splicing strap and there is no FON stamp I can find anywhere inside of the instrument. I'm guessing it is of mid to late teens manufacture.
The neck is two pieces, a long scarf joint from the first fret down to the neck heel and I can only assume, on into the dovetail. The back has obviously been off at some point to install the back strap at the center seem, so I can't absolutely rule this out as a repair but the neck and body finish all appears matching and rather old. The added back strap doesn't look as aged as the neck finish either and I believe it to be relatively recent. Anyone see anything like this that either left the Gibson factory this way when new, or as a factory repair? As a repair, this seems very unusual to me as the splice is on one side of the neck. The length has not been broken anywhere. I can only suppose that the neck ended up in a seconds pile at the factory but was then utilized at some point and sent out the door.
Mandocello? That's a pretty rare piece! I don't have a definitive answer to your question, and yes, it is a bit odd to see. I've seen 18th century cellos with splices to extend the neck for a more modern scale. Is it possible that this is the reason? ..although the fingerboard looks pretty original, too. I find it unlikely that Gibson would have done it in this time period, since they were producing some high quality instruments at the time, although they do have the "it's a Gibson" reputation.
Maybe check the scale length of another mandocello and compare, to rule my thought out?
Interesting mystery...good luck
Definitely not a mainstream instrument. The splice is only on one side of the neck and does not alter it's length. Scale length for a Gibson Mandocello is 24 3/4" and that is what this instrument measures.
I'm sure Gibson sent out many instruments that "Only Gibson is good enough" didn't really reach the bar. WW1 likely drove many compromises, with many manufactures during that time.
I am pretty sure from seeing it first hand that it either left Gibson new this way or was (factory?) repaired early on. Wondering if anyone else has seen anything like this. I have a thread on this topic over at the Mandolin Cafe too. So far the responses have a only been head scratching and question marks.
This mandocello has been worked over, so there's a host of possibilities, I suppose.
New/old headstock grafted on?
How's the nut width? I've seen a few that were clumsily "converted" to be strung like guitars.
The spliced on neck wood does not involve the head stock. It is on one side of the neck only, starting at the first fret and (I can only guess without removing the neck) past the neck heel and on into the dovetail. The head stock is configured correctly and appears unaltered. It is obvious that the back has been off but if the neck has been removed at some point, it was a long time ago, judging from the appearance of the neck connection to the body.
Well then, that's a new one on me, too. We've seen radically unmatched two-piece tops, three-piece tops, tuners drilled through inlay, and all kinds of stuff from Gibson. . .
Thanks for your input Frank, I suspect it will remain a mystery.